1. CARNAL OR SPIRITUAL?
Carnal (death) or spiritual (life) messages did not start in the 21st century even if there is an astronomical increase of the former. They had been there from the beginning of creation. The fall of Lucifer was the result of selfishness and pride. Not satisfied with being the anointed cherub who covers (Ezek 28:12-19), he desired to have a throne above that of God (Isa 14:12-15). In his selfish quest, he convinced one third of the angels to rebel against God. From that day, messages of life and that of death have been competing.
1.1. TWO COMPETING MESSAGES IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN
The LORD God preached a spiritual (life) message to Adam in the Garden of Eden: “I have planted this Garden for you and your wife to eat and enjoy. Inside it are two important trees, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and bad (the tree of death). Eat every fruit in the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad.” He warned Adam that death would be the consequence for disobedience.
Thereafter, Satan came and preached a carnal (death) message to Adam’s wife: “God is a liar. He doesn’t want you and Adam to be wise like Him. Can’t you see that not only is the tree the most beautiful one in this Garden, it is also the one producing the most mouth-watering fruits? Think about it, is it possible that something so pleasant to the eyes could be so bad?”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too (Gen 3:6 NLT).
Tragically, Adam’s wife believed Satan. The carnal message was very tempting. It was definitely more appealing than the spiritual one. Why depend on God for wisdom when she could acquire it just by eating the most delicious fruit in the Garden, she must have reasoned. Obeying God and following His rules was more tedious than stretching out her hand and plucking fruits that looked delicious.
1.2. TWO MESSAGES IN 21ST CENTURY CHURCHES
Carnal (fleshly) messages are in the upswing in 21st century churches. While Satan and his cohorts have had successes in previous centuries and dispensations, it would appear that they are having an unprecedented one in the 21st century. Some will say that it is very difficult to distinguish between fake and genuine ministers of God. That would be so if one is looking at the persons and not their messages. But, when you compare their messages with the Scriptures, it is so easy to distinguish the fake from the genuine. As it was in the Garden of Eden, so it is now. There are still two trees that we have been asked to chose from: true messages (life-giving) and false ones (death-leading). Which of the two one chooses to believe will determine where he will be in eternity. A Christian who thinks he can chose both is already deceived. While one leads to death the other leads to eternal life.
2.1. THE CARNAL
Carnal messages typically appeal to the senses. These greed-based messages have overturned the faith of many. They have helped to create millions of self-seeking and money-loving Christians. For this class of Christians, Christ died to make them rich. Their reward begins in this world. Eternal life is something so far off that living in the present makes a lot more sense. Carnal messages do not require much sacrifice. They subliminally convey that a Christian does not have to make any lifestyle changes. All that is necessary to prosper is to ‘sow seed,’ pay tithes and give large offerings. Of course, the prosperity being talked about is earthly prosperity.
Many pastors and general overseers give biblical verses to their congregants to ‘name and claim’ anything their hearts’ desires–houses, money, promotions, spouses, etc. They tell their congregation that a life full of abundance is their birthright as children of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Some even print pictures of houses and ask their followers to claim them by faith. A demonstration of that faith is for one to say ‘Amen,’ then post and repost those pictures and declarations in the social media.
Of course such teachings are very attractive. All one has to do to be prosperous is just say ‘Amen’ and share what the pastor or general overseer had written or pronounced from the pulpit. Most of the preaching is about money and how God rewards faithful givers. Occasionally, lip service is paid to Christ’s sacrifice. Even at that, it is more in the context of God’s benevolence and readiness to grant the worshippers their wishes. These carnal messages are so appealing especially in churches in most of the poorer countries of the world. That is the reason “New Pentecostalism” is growing fastest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. Churches are filled to the brim on Sundays as people rush to get the formula on how to get the ‘goodies’ (money, buy houses, get promotions, etc). Many church leaders, especially the founders of churches, love to see filled pews not because they care for the spiritual lives of their congregation but for the tithes and offerings.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1John 2:15-17).
One rarely, if ever, hears that biblical prosperity is about spiritual things. I don’t know how often the reader has heard the above Scripture read in your church. I will be surprised if you have. But shouldn’t that be one of the Scriptures that ought to be emphasized seeing that it was lust that caused the fall of our first parents?
God’s word is clear on the subject of carnality–“For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world.” How much more carnal can a church be when worldly prosperity is at the heart of the pastor’s pulpit message?
I respectfully ask any pastor or general overseer who thinks I am being unkind to stop preaching prosperity messages for one year. Instead preach on repentance, ‘Christ crucified and resurrected,’ sanctification and the soon coming of our Lord and Saviour. I assure you that you will definitely lose many of your members. However, those that remain would have grown so much spiritually under your teaching that you will be dancing joyfully everyday in the LORD’s presence.
What many don’t know is that this New Pentecostalism has nothing to do with the Pentecostal Movement that arose from the Azusa Revival of 1906 in Los Angeles. New Pentecostalism is anchored on greed. Its messages are not biblical. The spirit behind them is not the Holy Spirit. It is another gospel (Gal 1:8-9). I know some will opine that there are Scriptures to back up these greed-based doctrines. Most of the verses they sprout have been taken out of context and hence the erroneous interpretation. For more on this, kindly download for free the book, Stewards of the Kingdom, from our website. You will find more details in Chapter 5.
Ask anyone preaching these carnal doctrines to name one biblical figure that asked God for wealth. The richest man in biblical times (Solomon) never asked God for riches when he had the opportunity. Rather, he asked for wisdom. God was the one who chose to give him riches and we know what the outcome was.
Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. (2Cor 4:4 NLT)
There is no other explanation for the mass deception taking place except to conclude that Satan has put some hypnotic spell on most of these churches (leaders and the led). Otherwise, how can one explain why serious brothers and sisters who started out in Christian Unions of the 1970s are preaching and teaching these doctrines of demons. They don’t just teach them; they are enjoying the fruits. All one has to do is to look at their lifestyles (display of stupendous wealth) and the company they keep (usually the richest and most powerful in the society).
2.2. THE SPIRITUAL
Obedience to God is at the root of all spiritual messages (Phil 2:1-9). Because Adam’s disobedience was countered by Christ’s obedience, a message that does not have Christ and the Cross at the center is from the pits of hell. Spiritual messages focus on repentance, Christ’s sacrifice and exhortation to live in accordance with the word of God. They do not appeal to the flesh (senses) since they are food for the spirit. God loves those who preach and exhort others to flee from sin and to imitate Christ in words and deeds. And He blesses obedient stewards with more wisdom and with joy that surpasses all understanding.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:63-70).
The flesh, being earth-bound, hates spiritual messages (words of eternal life) because it does not see any profit for it in them. The Lord Jesus Christ had been working miracles and giving words of eternal life to His disciples for about three years. Yet, many of them left Him after His discourse on the Bread of Life and how imperative it was that whoever desires to have eternal life must “eat His flesh and drink His blood” This talk about eternal life and what it would take to inherit it was incomprehensible to those disciples that left Him. Their minds were still dwelling in carnality. Hence they could not recognize the Voice of the Shepherd. Had they been of the sheepfold, they would have recognized His Voice just as Peter and those other disciples that remained did. In like manner, there are many (general overseers, pastors, theologians and followers) who do not recognize God’s Voice in the Bible. Though some are leaders of millions and thousands, with fleshly minds, they cannot receive the things of God. Therefore, their messages can only be but carnal. Those listening to them do so at their own peril.
But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means (1Cor 2:14 NLT).
Should the spiritual then celebrate ignorance? Far from it. In fact it is the height of folly not to study God’s word. Just as those who are not spiritual cannot receive God’s truth even so the spiritual but not knowledgeable person cannot communicate that which she knows in the spirit adequately to her audience.
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do (Josh 1:8 NLT).
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth (2Tim 2:15 NLT).
The above verses show the importance of correctly explaining the Scriptures. Hence those who are spiritual but not knowledgeable should admit their lack, humble themselves and invite spiritual and knowledgeable teachers to instruct them properly.
2.3. WHO SHOULD TEACH GOD’S WORD?
Only those who are spiritual and know the Scriptures should be teachers. Many arrogate themselves that title when they are neither spiritual nor knowledgeable in the things of God. Others are either knowledgeable but not spiritual while some are spiritual but not knowledgeable.
Anyone who is not spiritual cannot understand and or interpret God’s word accurately. No amount of knowledge or theological education can substitute for spirituality. Knowing this fact, the reader can now understand why there are so many denominations and churches with varying mission statements and conflicting doctrines. Most of them cannot even agree on basic doctrines. And yet, Christians who claim to be spiritual follow them. Some will say that even though they are members of a particular denomination, they do not agree with some the doctrines. Those are hypocrites. I have bad news for them: Their membership means that they subscribe to everything being mouthed from the pulpit and those taught in their Sunday schools. They will be held accountable for the lives they are destroying for not challenging falsehood being disseminated by their denomination.
Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: “When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. “Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul (Ezek 3:17-19)
Sadly, there is paucity of spirit-filled knowledgeable teachers in our time. Please pray the Lord of the harvest to raise many more teachers.
3.0. THE GREAT APOSTASY: ONE OF THE LAST DAYS’ SIGN
Because spiritual messages are no longer taught, the new generation of Christians have come to accept carnal messages as truth. Hence the quantum increase in worldwide apostasy. The new generation of Christians are only after their needs. But, the older generation cannot blame them. We did not teach them the truth. So the lie has become the truth and the truth has become the lie. Those speaking the truth today are called ‘radicals.’ They rarely get invited to preach or teach in churches. Many pastors are afraid they will, through their biblical messages, open the eyes of the congregation, and thereby deprive them of their source of income.
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self- control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! (2Tim 3:1-5 NLT)
The New Living Translation (NLT) describes the last days as Difficult Times while the New King James Version (NKJV) calls it Perilous Times and the New International Version (NIV) says it is Terrible Times and in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) it is Distressing Time.
Can anyone dispute that 2 Tim 3:1-5 is describing a typical 21st Century Christian?
- People will love only themselves and their money.
- They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful.
- They will consider nothing sacred.
- They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.
- They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.
It is from this army of apostate Christians that the antichrist will draw his followers. He (antichrist) will provide so much free ‘goodies’ that majority of deluded Christians would be singing his praises. Those supposedly free goodies are actually ‘hooks’ to catch the greedy.
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world(Rev 13:8 NIV).
My prayer is that the eyes of those of the sheepfold, on reading or hearing this message, will be opened and that they will flee from these purveyors of death masquerading as pastors, prophets and general overseers.
I am using this medium to appeal to general overseers, pastors and elders to speak the truth and only the truth. Many of you are misleading God’s people (those purchased with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ) for selfish reasons. God will hold you and I accountable for whatever doctrines we teach.
Dear reader, kindly give this article to your pastors and elders. Do not be afraid to give it to them. They could be searching for the truth and you might be the one to help them see the light.
Scriptures taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) except where otherwise indicated.